NYU Tandon students reinvent the city ...
... and win a global competition for their efforts
Porte d’Orléans. For American Francophiles, the name alone might conjure up romantic notions of a picturesque Parisian neighborhood of cobbled streets, sidewalk cafes, and chic storefronts. The reality is slightly different: Porte d’Orléans is located on the border with the city of Montrouge and close to the ring road. The área provides a connection to a motorway leaving Paris and is thus often clogged with traffic. Sections are dense with public housing, and given the lack of retail establishments, basic services, and public amenities and facilities, the district faces several economic, social, and environmental issues.
Officials, hoping to develop a more peaceful, mixed, inclusive and dynamic district, turned to the organizers of the Students Reinventing Cities competition, which calls upon participants to rethink how urban areas are planned and built and come up with concrete solutions to improve quality of life, advance sustainability, and drive civic engagement.
A group of NYU students joined forces with students from Université PSL, a Paris-based university with which NYU has enjoyed a multi-year partnership, to form a team they called Nouvelles Connexions Urbaines, which was co-advised by Industry Assistant Professor Alice Reznickova, who directs Tandon’s Sustainable Urban Environments program and oversees a Vertically Integrated Projects team called Solutions for Sustainable Futures, and Adjunct Professor David Holzman. With added support from the NYU Urban Initiative and the Department of Technology, Culture, and Society, they worked across time zones, cultures, and languages to collaborate on a plan that was deemed the top entry in the Paris category. (Other categories in the competition included Athens, Dakar, Madrid, and Seattle.)
“The team did a wonderful job leveraging the strengths and assets of the neighborhood and bringing all the elements together to create a more livable and connected space,” said Reznickova. “Their proposed modifications to Porte d’Orléans have the potential to be meaningful — socially, environmentally, and financially — while still practical and achievable. They are a testament to the benefits of having a unique interdisciplinary program located at a School of Engineering.”
Their award-winning proposal included:
- Restructuring the frequently traveled north-south axis that connects Alésia and the entrance to the Boulevard Périphérique, with an eye towards its status as a visual landmark
- Strengthening the link between green spaces by creating appealing crosswalks, widening bike lanes, and improving accessibility
- Launching local farmers markets that could also serve as community gathering places and composting spots
- Building a service hub for sustainable transport, with bicycle parking, a shared bicycle station, and other such amenities
- Revitalizing the historic Montrouge Cemetery with added greenery, new walking paths, and shady spots for pedestrians
- Welcoming entrepreneurial and commercial activity to the now partially abandoned Galerie Marchande Le Square
- Integrating the area’s affordable housing units with their surroundings more fully
“Even working remotely, in partnership with teammates on the ground in Paris, our Sustainable Urban Environment students conducted a very thoughtful site analysis,” said Holzman. “This speaks to their hard work and dedication to the task at hand, as well as to the strength of our program, which creates a space where strong skill sets, technical perspectives, and rich conversations converge to inform, challenge, and motivate students — no matter their background or what part of the larger University they join us from.”
NYU Tandon: Christina Curry*, Caleigh Hardecker, Golbon Jazbani, Sarah Suchmann, Claudia Yanez (all Sustainable Urban Environments)
NYU College of Arts and Science: Anushka Maqbool* (Urban Design and Architecture)
Parisian participants from Université PSL: Caroline Adamy, Thibault Goessel, Gabriel Renault, Maxime Renault, Thibaud Schlesinger (advised by Emmanuèle Cunningham Sabot, Professor of Urban & Regional Studies at Ecole Normale Supérieure-PSL)
*Anushka and Christina will be serving as mentors for a new team in the upcoming year; they will be accepting applications in December 2021. Fill out this form if you are interested in joining the Solutions for Sustainable Futures team.